Who said what? Key quotes from the Djokovic saga

·4-min read

The Australian government won its battle to deport tennis superstar Novak Djokovic on Sunday, ending his dreams of winning a 10th Australian Open title and a record 21st Grand Slam.

Here are some key quotes from the saga:

- Family first -

"Jesus was crucified and endured many things but is still alive among us. Novak is also crucified... the best sportsman and man in the world. He will endure." –- Djokovic's father Srdjan condemning his son's detention on January 6

"They detained him and even don't give him breakfast, he has only lunch and dinner. He does not have a normal window, he stares at a wall." –- Djokovic's mother Dijana describing her son's ordeal at a January 9 rally in Belgrade

- A sympathetic judge -

"What more could this man have done?" –- Federal Judge Anthony Kelly foreshadows his eventual decision to release Djokovic at a Monday hearing on the tennis star's visa situation

- PM weighs in -

"Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic, and they rightly expect the result of those sacrifices to be protected." -- Prime Minister Scott Morrison backs the decision of his immigration minister to cancel Djokovic's visa

- 'I felt obliged' -

"I felt obliged to go ahead and conduct the L'Equipe interview as I didn't want to let the journalist down... On reflection, this was an error of judgement." –- Djokovic explaining his decision to be interviewed in person after testing positive for Covid-19 in an Instagram post on Wednesday

"The instructions were clear -- no questions about vaccination." -- French sports journalist Franck Ramella explaining his side of the interview the same day

- Fear of unrest -

"I consider that Mr Djokovic's ongoing presence in Australia may lead to an increase in anti-vaccination sentiment generated in the Australian community, potentially leading to an increase in civil unrest." -- Australian immigration minister Alex Hawke justifying his use of broad executive powers to revoke Djokovic's visa

- Not for everyone -

"He just has a different view on life. He has a different view how he eats, how he drinks, how he sleeps. That's where you can't criticise him. Maybe that's the reason he's so successful, but he's not for everybody -- I get it." -- Djokovic's former coach and six-time Grand Slam title winner Boris Becker to the BBC on January 6

- Witch hunt? -

"What is not fair play is the political witch hunt (being conducted against Novak), by everybody including the Australian prime minister pretending that the rules apply to all." -- Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic to media on January 6

"You know, a lot of people don't like him, and they have their right to not like him. But what's he really done? They reckon he's arrogant because what, because he wins?" -- Djokovic fan Sash Aleksic defending the nine-time Australian Open champion at a protest outside the detention centre on January 6

- 'Rules are rules' -

"Rules are rules." –- Prime Minister Morrison addressing the Djokovic visa situation at a January 6 press conference

"For sure he has been playing by his own rules." –- Greek tennis player Stefanos Tsitsipas on Friday

- About that box -

"My agent sincerely apologises for the administrative mistake in ticking the incorrect box." –- Djokovic explaining in a Wednesday statement why details of his pre-tournament travel history were missing

- Anti-vax icon? -

"He has now become an icon for the anti-vaccination groups. Rightly or wrongly he is perceived to endorse an anti-vaccination view and his presence here is seen to contribute to that." -- government lawyer Stephen Lloyd arguing the case for deportation

- There's the rub -

"I don't care how good a tennis player he is. If he's refusing to get vaccinated, he shouldn't be allowed in." -- former Australian Medical Association vice-president Stephen Parnis on January 8

"I am not vaccinated." -- Djokovic to immigration officials upon entering Australia on January 6

- Admitting defeat -

"I am extremely disappointed with the court ruling to dismiss my application for judicial review of the minister's decision to cancel my visa... I respect the court's ruling." -- Djokovic reacts on Sunday to losing his last-gasp bid to avoid deportation


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